Calhoun County native Rick Bragg has been named the 2009 recipient of the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer of the Year, the Alabama Writers’ Forum announced recently. Bragg will receive the award at the Alabama Writers Symposium in Monroeville on May 1 at the annual luncheon. The conference will meet April 30-May 2.
“I was honored to hear I had been chosen to receive the Harper Lee Award, named for a writer whose book, and its message, have spanned decades,” said Bragg. “I am also honored to join a list of people I have admired and respected all my writing life, people who have helped establish this state as a place where good writers just seem to come out of the dirt.”
Bragg is the best selling and critically acclaimed author of Southern non-fiction, including a trio of books on his Calhoun County family that have become anthems of working-class Americans—All Over but the Shoutin’, Ava's Man, and The Prince of Frogtown. The books, award winners in both literary and audio circles, track one family's conflicts and triumphs across a century of whiskey making, deprivation, fist fights, knife fights and human kindness. The story of his mother's sacrifices in raising him and his brothers in 1960s Alabama, All Over But the Shoutin’ is one of the most often read books in community and college-wide reads.
He is also the author of I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, and a collection of newspaper stories, Somebody Told Me.
A 1993 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Bragg has covered stories from Central Asia to the Caribbean to economic and social upheaval in the U.S., usually focusing on people in trouble. He has written from the Bazaar of the Storytellers in Peshawar, Pakistan, and the slums of Port-au-Prince. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing, the Susan Smith trials, 9/11, and many other stories in newspapers from The Jacksonville News to The New York Times.
Bragg lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Dianne, and step-son, Jake, where he is Professor of Writing at the University of Alabama. He continues to write for magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Food and Wine, Best Life, Men's Journal, Southern Living, Garden and Gun, and others.
The Alabama Writers’ Forum coordinates the process to select the Harper Lee Award recipient annually from nominations from the field.
The Harper Lee Award includes a cash prize and a bronze sculpture by Frank Fleming of the Monroe County Courthouse clock tower. The courthouse is a setting for Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird.
The honor is presented annually by Alabama Southern Community College at the Alabama Writers Symposium in Monroeville. It is made possible through a generous grant from George F. Landegger.
For more information about the 12th annual Alabama Writers Symposium, visit www.writerssymposium.org. For more information about the Harper Lee Award, phone the Alabama Writers’ Forum at 866-901-1117 or visit www.writersforum.org.